Judging by the reaction to a recent post by Deanna Fei – entitled, Why Every Writer Should Watch Jersey Shore – the TV show, like many reality shows, is polarizing; you either love it or hate it.
So let’s dive into this imbroglio and examine the issue as only the Demon can (or would dare). We’ll take a thought-provoking journey from the Jersey Shores all the way to France to take a potshot at the ghost of Flaubert, then we’ll return home to invoke our First President before heading off to the coliseums of ancient Rome. (I need the Frequent Fantasy MilesTM).
Ms. Fei writes, “Maybe my sense of humor is unevolved, but too often, I pick up a novel that's been described as hilarious, only to find that the laughs are mostly located in the author mocking his own creations for being less clever than he and his reader.”
The reference to mocking ones own creations reminded me of my extreme distaste for the novel, Madam Bovary. I could feel disdain and contempt oozing from Flaubert’s pen as he engineered the demise of Charles and Emma Bovary. Then again, what else should we expect from an author who believed that “"hatred of the Bourgeois is the beginning of virtue…”
I take umbrage at the notion that virtue begins with hatred.
Which brings me back to Jersey Shores – and pretty much all reality shows – I tend to hate them, “them” being the show, not the people. Truth is, I have nothing to say about the players in the show, good or bad, because I know nothing about them.
Specifically, it is the fish bowl venue that defines reality TV, where every facet of person’s life is on display, that I abhor. This is most likely because I am an introvert and would never seek to maximize my public exposure in such a way. Furthermore, I find much wisdom in the following from George Washington: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”
Therein lays the clash of philosophies. If you are like me, and subscribe to Washington’s point-of-view, Jersey Shore, or any other reality show, is likely to rub you the wrong way. It’s not a right or wrong thing, it’s personal idiosyncrasy.
It also explains why I regard Jersey Shore as a spectacle, which leads me to another TV show: Spartacus, Blood and Sand (thankfully, this isn’t a reality show). The Roman Gladiators were commodities, pawns in the grand games played out before thousands of spectators. Are the stars of reality shows that much different? Are they not pawns whose lives are played out on millions of TV screens? Both get used up and spat out, so to speak. At least the truth of this was contained in the Gladiators’ oath, “I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.” Perhaps those in a reality show should take an oath that begins like this: “I will endure to have no privacy, to be cancelled at any time…”
There’s no doubt that shows like Jersey Shore are polarizing. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I’m in the latter camp. However, I do not claim to be right or have the higher moral ground on this subject, Still, as an aspiring author, I feel it’s my duty to understand the origins of my antipathy, for better or worse.
Jeesh, I hate it when I get all philosophical and introspective like this. To cure myself of this malady, I am going to “veg out” tonight and watch the World Series.